Giving young people the opportunity to make positive changes to their own health through scientific discovery has always been at the heart of an innovative education project based in Southampton.
Now, LifeLab has been recognised as a Centre of Excellence by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) for its work in supporting young people to become ambassadors for change in their own communities.
The RSPH developed the Young Health Champions qualification which supports young people to train as peer health mentors. Those who take part in the scheme develop the skills and confidence to design and lead a health promotion campaign that is relevant to them.
As a long-time supporter of the programme, LifeLab successfully secured RSPH Centre status for delivering this qualification in July 2017 and, as a result, dozens of students have taken up the opportunity to complete the scheme.
In recognition of its high standard of teaching, support and outcomes, LifeLab was presented with the Centre of Excellence Award 2019 at the RSPH Hygeia Award ceremony held in London this week, by newsreader and RSPH Vice President Natasha Kaplinsky.
The centre was praised for its commitment to learners through the induction programme, support during course, mentoring and coaching. The award is only given to those centres who can also demonstrate a high pass rate and who have successfully worked in collaboration with a range of stakeholders in areas including vocational training, local government, schools and charities.
Not only did LifeLab claim an award, teachers who deliver the training at the centre, based at University Hospital Southampton were also highly commended alongside students who submitted their projects to the RSPH Hygeia awards.
LifeLab programme leader Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend said: “We were delighted to receive the Centre for Excellence award from RSPH for our work in providing and delivering the Young Health Champions qualification.
“We are passionate advocates of this qualification, as it provides training and support for young people to be the champions for health in their own communities. The students choose to design and deliver health campaigns on issues that they think are of relevance in their schools to support their peers. The health campaigns delivered this year centred around social media use, sleep, emotional health and wellbeing, body image amongst others.
“This award is testament to the hard work by the excellent teachers at LifeLab, who also received Highly Commended certificates for their work – Donna Lovelock and Lisa Bagust and our links with our partners Southampton City Council and the Healthy High Five team, and the Saints Foundation, but more importantly the work of the young people themselves and the support of their schools.”
A number of schools across Hampshire have qualified students as Young Health Champions through LifeLab, including Thornden School, Oasis Academy Sholing, Oasis Academy Lordshill, St George’s Catholic School, Woodlands Community College, Redbridge Community School and Cantell School.
Students from Oasis Academy Sholing and Thornden School received Highly Commended Certificates at the awards ceremony, along with the teacher leading the work at Thornden School Nicky Wood.
LifeLab is based at University Hospital Southampton and is a joint initiative of the University of Southampton Education School and faculty of Medicine along with the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre.